Accused embassy bombing conspirator Anas al Liby testified in federal court in Manhattan Wednesday that his treatment after being snatched by U.S. forces last year wasn't much better than the harsh treatment he got under Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
"I was arrested by the Libyan regime, and I did not find any difference between the Libyan regime's treatment and here," al Liby said at a hearing on whether statements he made in U.S. custody should be admitted at his trial.
"The same method, but in here at least they have the dignity not to hit me and extend their hand against me."
Al Liby, 50, was abducted by special forces and interrogated on a ship by intelligence agents for six days last October before he was put on a plane, advised of his Miranda rights and questioned by the FBI about al-Qaida's 1998 bombing of two embassies in Africa.
He asserts that he was deprived of sleep and threatened on the ship, where agents were seeking intelligence and not statements to be used in court. The government says initial questioning did not taint his later statements to the FBI, but the defense says he still felt pressure and wants the statements suppressed.
He testified Wednesday that he was blindfolded, earmuffed and handcuffed when transferred to the plane. Contradicting an FBI agent, he said he thought he was still in military custody, and was not told he was being taken to a civilian court in New York where he would have a full array of rights.
"I did not know," al Liby, speaking in Arabic through a translator, told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who will decide if his statements are admissible. "I thought that it was Guantánamo."
Al Liby said he asked for a lawyer but didn't get one. He admitted signing an advice-of-rights form but said he had a hard time concentrating because he was weary and having a hard time concentrating from a hunger strike he began on the ship.
George Corey, the government agent who questioned al Liby, differed with his version on several major points. He said al Liby was told clearly that he did not have to speak, was not pressured, and was given frequent rest periods.
After arriving in the United States, Corey testified, al Liby was hospitalized, and questioning ceased when he said he wanted to stop talking because of discomfort caused by his medical problems. "He thanked us for treating him with dignity and respect," Corey said.
Al Liby is charged with being an al-Qaida operative who helped surveil targets in the embassy bombing conspiracy. His trial is to begin Nov. 3.